Beautiful backyard at twilight that includes a pizza oven and fire pit.

Outdoor heating options for your patio or deck

Although eastern Australia is fairly blessed with the weather, we do experience some cool nights at this time of year, particularly if you live inland or in the hills. Yet most of us don’t like being stuck indoors and continue to spend as much time as possible on our patios or decks, whether we’re entertaining or just relaxing.

To make the wintery months that much more pleasant, we’ve come up with some ideas for heating your outdoor space, so you can enjoy those crisp evenings in comfort and style.

Outdoor heaters

Gas patio heaters are readily available & relatively inexpensive

Gas patio heaters are readily available & relatively inexpensive.

Gas patio heaters are among the cheapest and most immediate solutions to your outdoor heating needs, and are readily available from major hardware stores, online, or from outdoor heating specialists. Do a bit of research and read some reviews before you buy, so you ensure you are getting the best product for your money. For small patios, one heater is usually adequate, while for larger spaces, you may need a couple to cover the area. Of course, the more expensive you go, the greater the heating area, with top-of-the-range gas patio heaters covering up to 28sqm. And these days, there are lots of sizes, styles and colours to choose from, so you’re sure to find a model that suits your space.

Once considered the least economical option, electric outdoor heaters have taken leaps in the past few years and there are some powerful yet efficient models in the market. Although the initial outlay is significantly more than most gas heaters, in the long term, the new generation of infrared panel or Tungsten heaters cost less to run while producing more heat. And there’s no doubt these state-of-the-art heaters look great as well.

Whatever you decide, do your research, including running costs over time, and you’ll definitely be able to find a heater that suits your lifestyle and your budget.

Fireplaces

Covered Patio with fireplace

A luxurious covered patio with built-in fireplace.

Outdoor fireplaces are all the rage, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like sitting around a wood fire, particularly when you’re ensconced in a comfy chair with a glass of wine, under a night sky that is sparkling with stars.

In fact, outdoor fireplaces are so popular, many patio and deck designs incorporate one from the word go, like the luxurious set up in the picture above. But if you didn’t plan this far ahead, there are lots of options for retrofitting a fireplace on your patio or deck, such as a moveable cast iron or stone fire pit, or a brazier.

If you end up opting for one of the above, think about where you are going to place it, allowing for adequate ventilation and ensuring there is enough space between the fire, the roof and your furniture. You don’t want to end up with smoke stains on your ceiling beams or a melting plastic recliner. Also think about what you’re going to burn, as firewood can prove expensive over time, as can other forms of fuel. Try to find a source of cheap (or even free) sustainable firewood so you’re saving money while reducing your impact on the environment.

 Chimineas

Outdoor Mexican Fireplace.

A traditional Mexican chiminea.

The clay chiminea (from the Spanish word chimenea, meaning chimney) was originally used for cooking, first in Spain (about 400 years ago) then widely throughout Mexico and other parts of Central America. Now, however, they are primarily used for heating and have been adapted into a variety of styles and materials, including stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron, alongside the traditional clay version.

When designed properly, chimineas are excellent for use on decks and patios as they draw the smoke up the chimney and away from humans; they also burn quickly and intensely with little residue, making them ideal for timber decks where fire safety could be an issue.

All in all, adding a source of heat to your patio or deck extends your enjoyment of your outdoor space right through the winter months. It also means you’re more likely to entertain friends and family, as an outdoor dinner party is especially inviting if you’re not faced with freezing fingers and toes. To get you started, check out our post on mouth-watering winter BBQ recipes.

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